Tag Archive: jewish



If All the Seas Were Ink: A MemoirIf All the Seas Were Ink: A Memoir by Ilana Kurshan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was young, and even to this day, I loved to spend time, overnight to weeks, if I could, in other people’s homes. It was interesting to see how other people lived. I learned how different and yet the same my life was to my friends. What rules applied? What was okay? How huggy or talky were the people?

As an adult that is less likely to happen. Slumber parties seem to stay in the child’s world. Really close friends can share their lives. But it isn’t the same as personal observation.

Autobiographies give that kind of insight. You live inside the person’s world, hear their thoughts, see how they try to live up to their own standards. See how they feel when they don’t.

Ilana Kurshan provides that kind of insight. I admire her determination and curiosity. She decided to study the Talmud in a seven-year quest to understand it and her relationship to it better. She lived it as best she could, all the easier for living in Jerusalem, all the harder as a single person, then newlywed, then young mother. But she did her best to apply what she learned along the way.

I was raised protestant. I have many friends of various religious leanings and love to learn their belief systems and how they work in real life. I have a friend who has moved to Israel and thought of her as I read. I don’t know if she read this yet, but I bet she will glean from this person’s challenge.

Rating autobiographies is harder than a piece of fiction. It is personal. I can’t judge another person’s life or their own memories. It was where they are/were and how they choose to live it. Ms. Kurshan’s writing was compelling. I couldn’t stop reading. Since this was an ARC or Uncorrected Copy, there were formatting issues that made my text-to-speech the best way to read it all. But I’m sure those issues were corrected in the retail versions. Other than that it was a delightful read and I highly recommend it to others. I doubt I will ever try the seven-year Talmud, though who knows? I’ve taken on lessor challenges. I was glad that Ilana included scripture so I could feel a part of the quest. And I’m proud of her for taking a feminist view on her religion. It makes it all more real and possible.

I can’t wait to read other reviews about this book.

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CowgirlCowgirl by Java Davis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun little story. I loved the main character and her independent ways. I loved how caring she was as a person, leaving safety and comfort to protect her younger brother from people who were mean and judgemental. I loved how she invested herself and her monies to those who needed her help. Best of all, I loved that she was a Jewish cowgirl in Nevada. That made a very different novel than other ‘westerns’ I have had experience with.

Unfortunately, I found the writing to be, I don’t know, removed? I never quite felt I was there with the main character on her adventures. Maybe I needed more senses involved? Maybe the passive writing was more passive than I am used to? I really can’t say what it was.

On the other hand, I felt the author took chances with some very brave motives. Hitting on child abuse, sexual preferences, religion, Java Davis, author, handles these themes with finesse. Then, of course, there was a wonderful horse and dog to carry the story the rest of the way. I feel this book could be read by anyone from the young adult on. We all need to see how life was in other times, and for people who are different that ‘average’.

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